'Farmers in every county should be obliged to consider tree planting' - Creed
- Forestry targets being missed substantially
- 84pc of farmers would not consider planting in the future
The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said that farmers in every county should be obliged to consider tree planting.
It came as he conceded to Members of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee last week that Ireland is missing its forestry planting targets 'substantially'.
The number of hectares of new forestry planting in 2017 was 5,538 ha. The target was 7,140 ha. In 2018, it was 4,025 ha and the target was 6,605 ha. For 2019, the target is 6,900 ha.
"We have been missing the target substantially.
Because of the declining performance, the Department of Agriculture conducted a mid-term review of the forestry programme.
"We have revised the level of grant aid available for various species mix. All of them have increased. We hope we can get the targets back on track.
“This is very important.”
Minister Creed noted that trees are a critical part of the solution to Irish agriculture response to climate change.
Over one-third of the emissions savings from Teagasc emissions mitigation roadmap for agriculture recently endorsed by the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee, would come from increased afforestation.
In the analysis, the afforestation rate from 2021-2030 has been held static at 7,000ha per annum - significantly higher than the 4,000ha planted in 2018.
However, Teagasc noted that there are substantial barriers to uptake of forestry within the farming community.
Its research has found that while soil type, agricultural market income and level of subsidies had an impact on uptake rates, 84pc of farmers surveyed would not consider planting in the future, regardless of the financial incentives offered.
"There is a narrative in certain parts of the country where forestry is considered to be a dirty word. This is unfortunate," Mr Creed said.
"Trees are a critical part of the solution. I am not saying they should be concentrated in any given area.
"Apart from the climate obligation, they also bring a number of other benefits in terms of employment and income that is tax-free for 15 years. "There is also employment in timber processing and downstream businesses," he highlighted.
Minister Creed said he deliberately made the point recently in the Golden Vale and Tipperary that trees should not be the burden of any particular community to carry.
"Every farmer and every region should be obliged to consider tree planting in some shape or form. We have been missing our targets significantly," he said.
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